Last weekend, I began to think, maybe the drugs are working.
I spent all last week alone, while G was in Virginia attending a 5-day training seminar for his job. It didn't suck. Granted, I got the flu, which destroyed my master plan involving 5 straight days of gym workouts, but that was really the only thing pissing me off. I rested a lot. I cooked, I cleaned, I talked to my parents on the phone. I blogged, and on Friday, Dave came to visit, and we had a blast. Saturday afternoon I got a bitchin' blowout, and when G got home that evening, he demonstrated just how much he liked the 'do. And I'm over the flu.
One big thing I did on Saturday: I got myself a voice coach.
Yep. I sho-nuff did. I purchased four coaching sessions from the music school down the street. I had my first voice lesson yesterday. It felt incredible. INCREDIBLE.
I would say that I'd forgotten how good it feels to really sing, but I hadn't forgotten. I would say that I was nervous, but I wasn't. The only thing that made me nervous was forking over my credit card and charging over $300, wondering what G would say. But somehow, I knew he'd be ok with it, because I know that he understands what singing means to me, and how miserable I've been without it.
I was right about that. When G got home on Saturday, we ripped each other's clothes off and spent easily an hour in bed, until our stomachs growled and we needed to go out for dinner. Over burgers at our favorite local pub, I told him I'd spent $320 on one month's worth of weekly voice lessons at the music school down the street. "That's great!" G said.
"My first lesson is tomorrow at 4," I said, "I am SO excited."
We didn't discuss it in detail. I had his reassurance, and that was all I needed.
Sunday, I arrived a bit early to the studio, so I texted my pal Amy for some quick moral support. "Ask me what I'm doing right now?"
"What" She texted back.
I flipped my phone open and called her.
"What are you doing?" She asked.
"I'm waiting for my first voice lesson in over six years to begin."
"WHAT?" she exclaimed. "You're taking voice lessons?"
"Yep," I chattered. "There's this music school down the street from my apartment, and all these years I've walked past it, and I met the owner once, and last August I almost signed up, and yesterday I just walked in and said 'here's my credit card, when can I start?' and I spent over three hundred bucks on four lessons, and I haven't sung anything in almost a year, and I can't wait."
"Well, good for you!" Amy said. "I hope the teacher meets your exacting standards."
I felt my cheeks flush at that. "You're right Ames," I said. "I am picky as hell."
"I remember your criticism of that girl whose cabaret show we went to see," Amy reminded me.
"Yeah..." I said, feeling a bit chagrined. "You're right, I am really fussy. But I'm going into this with an open mind. The teacher was an opera singer, and I hear he teaches all musical styles, which is the same as my old teacher, who I loved."
"Well, if it doesn't work out, you don't have to continue," Amy said. "But have fun!"
I said goodbye, and that I'd call her later, and then I closed my phone, and went inside.
The teacher's adorable. He's a little younger than my Dad. He's got an Italian name but he looks Jewish. He's friendly, funny, geeky, and plays the piano beautifully.
"That's some voice you got there kid," he remarked after a few vocalises.
As for my vocal issues, he had me pegged in less than 10 minutes.
"Your voice is very facile," he said, "and it's your double-edged sword. You can sing like anybody, but we need to get you singing like yourself. Stop imitating others, and be yourself."
This has been my crutch for... well, my entire life. You want opera? I can do that. You want country, pop, rock, jazz? No problem. I can sound like anything you want - because that's how I convince people to let me sing. I trained myself at a young age to sing whatever a director wanted to hear. I was desperate to be cast. Often, it worked. More often, it didn't.
I'm a mimic. But I have no real idea who I am. I know who I can be. That's not the same thing.
Yes, this is very holistic. I truly believe that this is connected to something very deep inside of me. My ongoing search for my true self began when I was about 30, and this is part of it. My singing is so integral to who I am. I've been saying for a while now that when I left New York and moved to Nyack, I left my Self behind, and haven't been able to get It back. I've found a lot of new and wonderful things (like massage), and am grateful for my discoveries over these last four years. But singing, music, I cannot truly ever leave behind me. As hard as I tried, I can't "get over" it. I was not able to replace my passion for singing with a passion for something else. Not massage, not my husband, not domestic bliss. The emptiness inside me will never go away until I find some way to get music back into my life, some way to get myself singing again.
As much as I have called this a curse, it's actually a gift. It's my gift from G-d, and I can't escape it. And I don't want to. Not anymore.
So here I am, going back to voice lessons. I practically floated into that studio office on Saturday, fresh from the salon, feeling sexy, feeling happy, feeling positive. Feeling POSITIVE.
This is the thing I never talk about. Underneath it all, I think I started the Prozac for this. There are so many reasons to treat my depression, good reasons, reasons I've already mentioned on this blog. But underneath it all, I want to sing.
I think, really, more than a great marriage, more than being a great Mom, more than being sober, more than being healthy and fit, more than happiness for it's own sake, more than all those things, I simply want to sing. I want it badly enough, that I'm willing to do the thing that I was too frightened to do for all those years.
I have a vision of myself, standing in the back corner of a dark club, with a guy on piano, singing to a dark room, with only a few people in the club besides the bartender and the waitress. And at the end of my set, I collect my pay, shake the owner's hand, and say "see you next week."
I've already lived through the things that scare most people. I've been divorced. I've drunk myself into emergency rooms and suffered blackouts and humiliated myself countless times. I've lost friendships. I've been thousands of dollars in debt, with no job, and no apartment. I've been rescued by loved ones and lived with the guilt and shame of not being able to care for myself or support myself the way an adult should. I've gained weight, I've lost time. None of those things forced me to deal with my depression.
The day I realized that I believed there was no point in trying to sing again, that I was faced with a future of never singing again, because I would never have the strength or belief in myself to try, was the day I knew I needed to get healthy.
I remember seeing a made-for-TV movie about the band Def Leppard, and how they re-formed their bad in the 1980's after breaking up, going through rehab, nearly being killed in car accidents, etc. One of the band members, who had been in and out of rehab due to alcoholism, told Joe Elliot "You want to keep me sober? Keep me on tour." Playing music was the only thing that removed his drive to drink.
I've heard a lot of musicians talk about this sort of thing, how important it is to do what you love, how it's almost like breathing, you HAVE to do it. If you don't you die. You might be walking around, working, living, but it's not really life.
So. I'm singing again. Just 45 minutes of work, and I feel alive in a way that I haven't in... I don't even know how long. Six years?
I have a new song to learn for my next lesson. For this week, I'm supposed to sing for 10-15 minutes every day. That's my homework.
Oh, whip me with a wet noodle.
So, if you'll excuse me, I'd better close this. I have to practice.